It is just past midnight, and dough is rising in my kitchen. When it doubles in size, I will punch it back down, knead it, and shape it into a loaf. I will then let that loaf double in size before baking it for twenty or so minutes. When the bread is nearly done, I will turn off the oven and leave it overnight. As the temperature cools, it will give the bread a harder crust.
The ingredients list for bread is short: water, yeast, and flour are all you need. I have added salt and raisins to my dough for tonight—the former because I always add salt, the latter because, in the store where I stopped on my way home, they keep bags of dried fruits above the flour, and the raisins seemed especially appealing, which probably had nothing to do with the fact that the street the store was on had been closed to traffic due to nearby rioting, though nothing I could see or hear. A few blocks down, I had to take a detour to get home because of the police officers and heavy vehicles blocking the way.
Bread works particularly well with my a-handful-of-this-and-a-pinch-of-that approach to cooking.
I started baking bread when I was an undergraduate. At Evergreen, everyone in the dorms student residences had access to a proper kitchen; I lived in a flat with two double bedrooms (the second cheapest floorplan available). My first-year roommate had a small parrot and a copy of The Joy of Cooking. I taught the parrot how to talk and used the cookbook more than she did. My first attempt to bake bread, however, failed: the dough never rose. One of my hallmates suggested I talk to another who liked making food from scratch and writing poems that were very minor rewordings of the lyrics to songs from the 1960s and 70s. He suggested that, instead of adding very hot water to yeast already mixed with flour, I add yeast to lukewarm water before stirring the mixture into the flour. That is how I have made bread (and rolls and pizza crusts) ever since.
This post was written for DigiBakeDay, an online gathering in the kitchen.
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- Wino Wheat Bread(sugar-coat-it.com)